Boulder is smart, fit, green. A worthy vacation destination in its own right, yet for many Colorado visitors, Boulder is merely a stopping point between Denver and the Rocky Mountain National Park. If you happen to be there on a weekend morning, you can’t go wrong with taking time for brunch.
And there are more choices for a good brunch than there are deer grazing in Boulder backyards, but here are some perennial favorites.
Lucile’s may be the most popular spot to brunch in Boulder. Housed in a pale yellow building just a couple of blocks north of the pedestrian mall, this creole cafe emanates warmth, good cheer, and delicious aromas that explain the crowd waiting patiently outside. And there’s always a crowd. Can’t find the restaurant? Just look for the people.
To shorten your wait for a table, you can get there early preferable at 8 AM, when they open or opt to sit at the community table, where you can make some new friends over the course of your meal.
Brunch at Lucile’s should open with coffee either their New Orleans-inspired chicory coffee or their famous cafau lait, which is served in what may best be described as a soup bowl with handles. Not a coffee drinker? Splurge on the fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Nearly everything on the menu is fantastic, from the red beans and rice to the shrimp creole. A personal favorite is the Pain Perdu (french toast). It’s delicious, thick and buttery, served with fresh fruit, an egg, sausage, and syrup. If you want to make it extra delicious, request the praline syrup on the side.
The beignets are the one disappointment on the menu many people love them, but I have always found them too dense. Instead, ask for a biscuit. Lucile’s biscuits are plate-sized, unbelievably fluffy, and delicious with the house-made strawberry rhubarb jam. If you’re a light eater, one biscuit could be a meal in itself.
Laissez les bons temps roulez!
2124 14th Street
Chautauqua Dining Hall
The Chautauqua Dining Hall has been around since 1898, and is a firmly entrenched Boulder tradition. Though it hasn’t been serving brunch for quite that long. While they are open for breakfast every day, you don’t want to miss the brunch buffet served up on Sunday.
Pretty much everything is good they’ve got all the standard buffet fare, though of higher quality than most. For something a little different, try the vegetable strata or the chicken and onion enchiladas. But, good as it is, the real draw isn’t the food. What makes this restaurant spectacular is the setting at the top of a meadow, set back against the Flatirons. The view is incredible, the air is fresh, and you may see deer grazing out front. Sit on the wraparound porch to take full advantage of the location.
And skip the brunch cocktails the dining hall is just a short stroll from the main Chautauqua Park trail head. So take a hike and burn off some of the extra calories you just indulged in.
900 Baseline Rd
in Chautauqua Park
Brasserie Ten Ten
Brasserie Ten Ten has an authentic french bistro feel, down to the tiny tiles on the floor and the gargantuan display of fresh flowers. Truly, this bouquet could cause bodily damage if it fell on someone.
White tablecloths are classy, but are covered with butcher paper for doodling. That pretty much sums up the bistro elegant but fun. Brasserie can be expensive at dinner, but is truly a deal for brunch.
The starters, big enough to fill you up if you’re not careful, are hard to pass up. Tempura-fried green beans with garlic aoli are a treat. And thisis the place to order beignets. They are are light and delicious, and come with an out-of-this-world lemon curd.
For the main course, their steak frites is always perfectly cooked, and is served with your choice of bearnaise or sauce au poivre.
The Foot Long Hot Dog has to be seen to be believed. It’s almost an architectural work. The hot dog comes dressed with gherkin relish, sauce mornay, field greens, tomatoes, Gruyere cheese, mustard, and a balsamic sauce. I have yet to see someone eat the whole thing.
The Oven Baked Biscuits sound simple, but aren’t. They’re split and filled with black forest ham and horseradish creme, then topped off with coffee-scented gravy and a drizzle of balsamic sauce.
They also offer oysters, mussels, salads and more traditional breakfast fare, but all with a french-inspired flair.
1011 Walnut St.
Not as upscale as the rest of this list, Le Peep is a solid Boulder favorite and is always busy on the weekends. Unless there’s a huge crowd, you can expect to be seated promptly, and if you order coffee they’ll bring an insulated carafe of Silver Canyon coffee for the table. No waiting on refills here.
Le Peep is very child-friendly, and the kids love the smiley-face pancakes.
Favorite adult dishes are the Reuben sandwich, the Tamale Festival (try the green chili on top), pan-fried trout, and, of course, the biscuits.
This brunch spot is always good, always friendly. And as an added bonus, it’s right next door to McGuckin Hardware, which is surprisingly popular with tourists. (Need it? They’ve got it.)
2525 Arapahoe Ave.
Head to the Med for a huge menu chock full of hot and cold tapas. From New Zealand cockles with prosciutto to tuna tartare, they’ve got it, and it’s always delicious. Order 5 or 6 tapas and share them around the table. Another must is the seafood paella.
When the weather is nice (and this is Colorado, so the weather is usually nice), sit outside on the sunny, yellow- and blue-tiled patio for a brunch experience that can’t be beat in Colorado.
1002 Walnut St.
The Farmer’s Market
On Saturdays, from April to October, hie yourself to the farmer’s market. It’s a great place to shop for fresh produce and local goods, people watch, and, yes, eat. A whole section of the market is dedicated to prepared foods. Your only problem with securing a meal will be choosing a vendor. The offerings include fresh pasta, pizza, sandwiches, tamales, baked goods, fresh smoothies and more. But do try the chicken basil dumplings at Sister’s Pantry. They are not to be missed, and the line will move quickly. (And yes, you can buy them frozen to take home with you!)
Once you’ve chosen your food, skip the tables set up in the food court, and find a spot on the grass behind the produce vendors. You can watch the Boulder creek rush past, listen to the kids playing, and just enjoy the ambiance.
You’re in Boulder, after all.
13th St.between Canyon Blvd. and Arapahoe Ave.